Supply Chain TechnologyYour supply chain has changed over the last couple years. Chances are that you’ve made technology improvements on your end but even if you haven’t changed a thing, some segments of your chain have changed and while each tech improvement likely made a positive change for the company that implemented it, you may not be getting any of the benefits. Here are the technologies that are creeping into the supply chain and what you should look for so you might be able to leverage those improvements for your own benefit.

thumb purchase-order-basicsThe benefits of automating orders, invoices, and ASNs between your company and its customers are well known. Integrated documents are faster, less prone to error, and improve workflow among your people and systems. At this point, it would be rare to find a major retailer or manufacturer who isn’t using electronic documents to run their businesses. Not so rare, though, are small and medium sized businesses (SMB) still pushing paper. It’s about time for SMBs to make their move, isn’t it?

supply chain integrationLet’s have some fun with math. What EDI translator does your company use? For that matter, what ERP, 3PL, or other service is on your short list? Next, how many trading partners do you have? And finally, what EDI, ERP, and other electronic systems do they use? It doesn’t really matter whether you have the answers to these questions. What you would get even if you use the smallest estimates available is a very large number of permutations. How is it possible then to maintain compatibility and also keep up with the accelerated pace of today’s supply chain?

integration-gearThere was a time when companies moved data between applications by using text files, spreadsheets, or (really?) manual input. Those days still exist for companies only processing a few orders every month. The breaking point comes at somewhere around 250 orders per month, and for suppliers unprepared, what they thought would be a great change can be painful and even lead to larger problems.

real-time-monitoringIn many ways, EDI standardized formats have simplified supply chain logistics for retailers, and put them in the driver’s seat in their relationships with suppliers. In short, if suppliers don’t comply, they don’t get the benefit of incentives, and may suffer the consequences of penalties. Suppliers who are often out of compliance will also suffer from a lack of repeat business.